Ah, cycling in Seattle. The stifling air, thick with heat; the oppressive sun searing away the droplets of sweat slowly rolling down my face… Wait, that wasn’t sweat! It was ice-tinged rain. And that wasn’t the sun! It was… uh… well, I guess it was technically the sun.
The day started out with such promise. I slept in after one of those rare occasions where I actually make it through the night without waking up thirty-five times to stare at the evil glowing red numbers on the clock in a dead panic. Then, The Boy was gone at his dad’s, The Girls were still asleep and therefore hadn’t used all the hot water by showering before me, and The Beloved was preparing a banana-and-tropical-fruit smoothie. Though thick grey clouds were moving rapidly in from the sea, the roads were dry. I had all day to get outside and ride.
You all know where this is going, don’t you? One of The Girls was sick. The Beloved had to take the other one to horseback riding lessons. You know that look parents get when one child has to go somewhere and the other is ill and they can’t figure out how to serve the needs of both children and their eyes sort of glaze over in despair? So do I. With the sick Girl downstairs watching Spongebob, I stayed home and scrubbed my Shogun’s brake calipers (more on that another time) until everyone returned.
The Beloved said they would be back by 2pm. At 1:45, I looked out the window and saw that the thick grey clouds were no longer skittering across the expansive sky. They were sitting gloomily right overhead. If you live in Seattle, you know what that means…
It’s plastic grocery bag time! Note the roofing materials that have been sitting on our roof for two weeks, waiting for a day dry enough to actually apply them.
While the Sports thinks a light drizzle is entrancing, outright downpours are not its thing. Steel wheels keep on turnin’… perhaps I should take to calling the bike Proud Mary? Actually, I think names for bikes are a bit silly. I had enough trouble naming the cat.
So I dragged out the Panasonic for one last go before the big stem/bar tape switch. I figured I’d head for the Cedar River Trail, and drop the bike off at the bike shop on the way home, as the trail ends in downtown Renton, just two blocks from the bike shop.
We had the trail to ourselves. Oddly, few people enjoy riding in the middle of a spitting monsoon.
Sections of this trail are very pretty, especially the first leg, where it parallels the Cedar River instead of the Maple Valley Highway. I guess calling it the Maple Valley Highway Trail would be somewhat less appealing. At any rate, I find the part that runs between the Maplewood Golf Course and the highway rather scenic as well. Perhaps I should have rigged something like this to handle the inclement weather:
I managed to keep the rain out of my face, mostly, as my hood extended out like a duck bill beneath my helmet. Since there wasn’t really much competition for space, I was able to go just under 10mph (honestly, officer, no more than the posted speed limit. It only felt like 20). The aluminum bell, I soon discovered, doesn’t really work when coated in water. In makes a rather pathetic “dink dink” sound. I had to shout “on your left” at least four times, possibly five, as I passed a couple dog walkers and crazy Seattle runners (who will brave anything, including the apocalypse, to get a few miles in).
Clearly, stopping in the middle of this torrent to take photos of one’s bike is strange. Especially when the lens keeps fogging up and ruining all the flash photos, so you have to take them in “natural light,” which doesn’t actually exist at this point.
Fortunately, a very nice gentleman who was jogging by took pity on me and offered to assist. The result:
Possibly he was grateful that I “dink dink”-ed him about twenty times as I went past.
Even when I didn’t pass anyone, rain kept hitting the bell and making little TINK noises. The tires were hissing and spitting and the rear portion of the now-infamous nordic ski pants had given in completely. At the 5.5 mile waypost, the Panasonic and I decided, mutually, that we were done and needed to turn around. Eleven miles of misery seemed like enough, really.
I never knew, until today, that my Keens could hold water. But they can! By mile nine, each downstroke on the right pedal resulted in a generous squoosh, like stepping into a luke-warm bath. My supposedly high-tech Gortex jacket had given up at the seams, and my fleece pullover was starting to feel spongy around my neck. Clearly, it was time to call it a day.
I went straight into the bike shop, where they looked at me as if I were certifiably insane. I’ll regain the Panasonic, with new stem and tape, on Monday. Perhaps it will be dry enough to try it out. If not… I’ll probably try it out anyway. How bad could it be?